|Even the mighty Frank Lloyd Wright didn't waste time|
doing fancy drafting when he was still hashing out ideas.
This one eventually turned into Fallingwater.
That’s a big mistake. In order to produce a really well thought-out design, you have to explore lots and lots of different schemes—what architects call iterations. This in turn means you shouldn’t spend a lot of time drawing up any one scheme until it’s clear you’re close to a solution. It’s much better to end up with a whole pile of messy solutions that work than to produce one spotless drawing that's a loser.
|The Swiss architect Le Corbusier was renowned for his|
scribbly sketches, which he never hesitated to include
as illustrations in his numerous books.
When a person invests a lot of time in a drawing—say, a floor plan—they have a natural tendency to covet it, regardless of how rotten a solution it really is. Then, when some glaring error is pointed out, they become defensive, since they’ve probably just wasted their last eight weekends slaving over a drawing that’s fatally flawed.
“Your bathroom opens onto the dining room,” I’ll say to a proud client. “We’ve got to fix that.” To which they invariably moan, “Oh, no! I spent so much time on this drawing!”
|Your best friends—lots of cheap paper,|
a waste basket, and a willingness
to keep on trying.
• Don’t do initial design sketches on a CAD program—you'll spend most of your effort trying to make the drawing look good, which is a waste of time at this point. Draw on paper. But don't draw on expensive paper, either. Draw on flimsy tracing paper (available in art and drafting supply stores in 12”x50’ rolls). Why? First of all, it’s cheap, and you won’t feel guilty tossing wads of it into the recycling bin as you search for a solution. Second, since tracing paper is transparent, you can overlay your basic sketches without having to draw the whole blasted thing over and over again. You can focus on just the parts that still need work.
• Do try lots and lots of quick, sketchy solutions. Don’t waste time making your drawings look tidy; regardless of what your first-grade teacher may have told you. Neatness is unimportant at this stage of the game. The more schemes you try, the more likely you’ll converge on a good solution.
|Multiple design sketches can help you|
sort out what works, and what doesn't.
• Finally, don’t get too attached to your sketches. Remember, they’re a means toward an end, not a work of art. Yes, you've probably spent dozens of hours on your design and, yes, it hurts when people point out shortcomings—but you should always be willing to take criticism, whether from your architect, your spouse, or your twelve-year-old. The end result will just be that much better.